It’s day three of the 10-day Daniel fast I’m on. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s a fast based on scripture where Daniel eats only choice foods (see below for more information). In this case I can eat fruits and vegetables and food from plants and seeds. No meat, dairy, sugar, yeast (read bread), caffeine, alcohol, tea, etc.

So far it’s been okay but there have been times when only a prayer asking for help will keep me rooted. And that’s the entire point after all. When you sacrifice, you turn to God and get closer to Him and meditate more on what He wants for you.

Here are some of the highlights of my last couple of days.

  • Three reaches into the refrigerator at 8 a.m. for my normal caffeine induced pick-me-up, a diet coke. With a quick snap-back reflex of the arm and a big sigh, I filled up a glass of water to re-hydrate and prayed to God to please keep me awake on my drive in to work.
  • Four or five serious but quick chocolate cravings. As I walk through my office, the remnants of the vendor gifts waft deliciously at me and tease me.
  • Eight ounces of peanuts consumed. A staple that keeps me sane.
  • Soy yogurt for breakfast this morning. The color and consistency are enough to turn you off but as a substitute it’s okay and the taste is alright but not really something I’ll stick with.
  • A body that is so racked with fatigue and cannot be uplifted with any additive, had to fall to sleep last night at 6:30 p.m. I awoke to the one cat who constantly runs away from me begging for some petting. He must have missed me chasing him and wondered what was wrong.

Tonight I must go back to the stove to cook up something edible that will last a few days so I don’t get stuck with nothing to eat and a craving that will send me to Chik-fil-A.

In case you are interested in the background of Daniel and the fast, here is an excerpt from this web site:  http://www.gotquestions.org/Daniel-fast.html

The concept of a Daniel fast comes from Daniel 1:8-14, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, ‘I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.’

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, ‘Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.’ So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.”

The background of the Daniel fast is that Daniel and his three friends had been deported to Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians conquered Judah (2 Kings 24:13-14). Daniel and his three friends were put into the Babylonian court servant “training program.” Part of the program was learning Babylonian customs, beliefs, laws, and practices. The eating habits of the Babylonians were not in complete agreement with the Mosaic Law. As a result, Daniel asked if he and his three friends could be excused from eating the meat (which was likely sacrificed to Babylonian false gods and idols).

The people God puts in my life continue to amaze me. Some are challenges. Some are blessings. Some are truth-bearers. Some are saviors. Some teach. Some learn. And some, well, they just hug you at the exact time you need it.

I pray on the way to work pretty much every day. First I start off thinking how I want to be in bed and sleep some more. Then someone cuts me off and I go into my grumpy mode. Then I realize that is no way to start a day. So, at about 11 minutes into my commute I ask the Jesus to forgive me for all my nasty thoughts and sins and then beg the Holy Spirit to invade my body and mind and take over because I’m too tired to carry out His fruit and be generous, patient, gracious… all those things that take effort.

Why does being patient and kind and gentle take effort? Why do I need to pray for that every day? Why can’t it just be part of my personality? This is where God tells me “It’s because if you didn’t need to struggle, you would think you didn’t need me.” Good point oh mighty One.

So the other day after a long day of not telling a few people exactly how I feel about their last email or the request to hurry something along that has already been hurried along, or saying “NO!” to a client who is unreasonable, or not getting angry at the super slow cashier person, or being upset with the consistent stream of broken things in my life that need fixing, I was in near tears. Stupid first-world problems were stressing me out and I really don’t want to have to take a xanax. I need a better solution.

Well, this is where God comes in and puts the other kind of people in my life. A short walk over to the neighbor’s house and what do I see but a smiling toddler crawling toward me. This munchkin doesn’t talk yet but I swear he knows exactly what we are saying to him—his facial expressions seem to hint that there is a wise old man in that little body. And then the gift from God came when I picked up the “Peanut” as I call him and he dove right into me and gave me a huge hug. He had never done that before and that’s when my tears started. Nothing feels so good as a big ‘ol hug from a good friend or in this case a cuter than cute little boy.

God’s anxiety pill. Awesome. It also helps to sit on a quiet beach and soak in the beauty of the sea with the Grendel dog. That does not stink either. 

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I am guilty of not completely appreciating gifts that have been given to me freely and sit visibly in front of me as I stare past them thinking about something meaningless. It’s like when I go walking down the beach and I look at all the huge beautiful houses and think how cool it would be to live there. Then I chastise myself and turn the other direction and remember that the most beautiful thing in my view is the vast ocean, sky, and beach. The houses are going to get knocked down some day but the gifts of warm sand and cool water and dolphins jumping—those are God’s gifts—all free and all perfectly lovely.

I’m thinking about gifts today because last year on this day—a seemingly normal uncelebrated day on the calendar—my brother invited me up to his house in MD to spend the day with him and the kids. Why? No reason, we just hadn’t seen each other in awhile and wanted to spend some time together. There was no agenda and no special events planned. So I went up there and cooked a rice krispy house with the boys that turned out so bad we laughed, took some photos, and proclaimed it a “krispy fail. “

Later we decided to go to a movie. The Lorax was playing and after we laughed at how the kids could memorize every line in the movie but couldn’t remember their homework assignments for the next day. As Greg put it, “If only they would use their powers for good.”

I remember that normal, lazy but fun day very well because it was a gift from God. God gave me that last day with my brother before he died the next week. We spent the day talking about a lot of things and just enjoying our friendship and our family. I will always cherish the memories of that day and thank God for letting me have those precious moments with Greg and the kids.

It sounds cliché when people say things about living life to the fullest and appreciating the moments you have with loved ones, but nevertheless it is true. Just listening to jokes and stories, hanging out and enjoying some fresh air or a warm fire, taking a walk, watching a movie, or playing a game—it’s all precious time spent that lets us be present in each other’s lives. I wish I could spend more time with Greg’s kids like we used to but I’ll let God be in control of the timetable on that one.

In the meantime, I’ll remember that day always. Especially when I go into work each day. Last year my coworkers made these decorations that reminded me of the Lorax trees, and they hang all over our office. At first I was sad each morning when I walked in and saw them and was reminded of my loss. Now I just see the pretty paper flowers and remember the gift God gave me and I’m thankful.

"Rice Krispy Fail"

“Rice Krispy Fail”